Prosecutors ask court to reject Nichols' latest appeal

Saturday, December 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Issues raised in Oklahoma City bombing coconspirator Terry Nichols' latest appeal have already been settled, a federal prosecutor argued.

In court documents filed Nov. 30 but made public Friday, prosecutor Sean Connelly asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject Nichols' request for a new trial.

Defense lawyers have argued Nichols deserves a new trial because of withheld FBI documents and a legal technicality that jurors should have determined whether Nichols knew the attack would be deadly.

Connelly said the appellate court has already dealt with those issues when it upheld U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch's decisions denying Nichols a new trial. Matsch was the trial judge.

Neither Connelly nor Nichols' defense lawyer John Richilano returned phone messages left at their offices.

Nichols, 45, was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The blast, which killed 168 and injured more than 500, was at the time the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil. He was sentenced to life in prison.

His Army buddy, Timothy McVeigh, 33, was executed June 11 for his role in the bombing.

The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected Nichols' petitions to rehear the case, once in April and again in October after the FBI released thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents.

In a previous ruling, the appellate court said the FBI information-control forms, or ``lead sheets,'' did not contain information that could have helped Nichols prove his innocence.

``This point ... remains true and is not affected by the later production of additional,'' documents, Connelly wrote in his argument.

Nichols still faces trial in an Oklahoma court on 160 counts of first-degree murder.

About the legal technicality, Connelly wrote: ``Nichols could have been sentenced to life imprisonment even if his conspiracy with McVeigh somehow had been thwarted ... before any deaths resulted.''